USC vs. BYU: Things I Liked and Didn't Like

Loved the effort, the overall play and, ESPECIALLY, the defense. Didn't like the outcome.

I liked BYU's defensive front. BYU's defensive front dominated on running plays and were able to mount good pressure on USC quarterback Matt Leinart throughout the game.

The interior linemen deserve special mention. Ifo Pili, Daniel Marquardt and Manaia Brown were all outstanding. Although you'll hardly ever seen any of these guys appear on the stat sheet much, each of them did a great job blowing up the middle blocking, getting penetration in the backfield and allowing the linebackers and safeties to make plays through the line without being touched by offensive linemen. Huge props to all three of these big guys.

Defensive ends John Denney and Brady Poppinga were both phenomenal in this game. Denney made some huge plays and Poppinga proved unbelievably effective pursuing laterally from his outside position. C.J. Ah You got in for a few plays and showed well when passing the rusher.

The back-up linebackers all played an outstanding game, particularly true freshman K.C. Bills. He was very effective running down plays from sideline to sideline. He played a lot more than he did against Georgia Tech. It appears his game reps will only increase as he gains experience with each game.

Colby Bockwoldt had several costly penalties, but made some outstanding plays in the open field when he blitzed.

Josh Brandon, a Southern California native, filled in very nicely against USC. He had an interception and knocked down a pass that resulted in a Brady Poppinga pick.

If there are still doubters about BYU's defense and what Bronco Mendenhall has brought to Provo, something is wrong with you. BYU will be hard-pressed to play a better offensive unit the rest of the season than USC. The Cougar defense simply outplayed the USC defense in all statistical categories except the final score.

The most exciting aspect of BYU's new 3-3-5 defense was the fact that USC was never able to mount an effective running attack. Even more impressive is that BYU did it with a three man front throughout the game. Again, credit goes mostly to the interior linemen for this.

I liked the play of Chad Barney. Other than the time he whiffed on Mike Williams in the open field, Barney was very effective. Props to Barney and Nate Soelberg in filling in effectively for injured Brandon Heaney against one of the top receiving tandems in the country in Williams and Keary Colbert.

I didn't like the penalties. BYU committed way too many penalties, especially at crucial junctures in the game. BYU must reduce its mental errors. They're averaging 13 penalties a game now after two outings. That is not acceptable.

I liked the fact that Crowton only ran one option play. I've never been a fan of this with Berry running it. It may be a good change up at times, but it is a play more bad than good can come of it with Berry at the helm.

I liked how Crowton spread the field and only went with one back throughout the game. This was not the game to employ tight, two-back set formations. Auburn proved last week what a tight, two-back set will earn you against USC's defense.

I didn't like the coverages and blocking on kickoffs. USC's average field position on kickoffs they returned was at the 37 yard line; BYU was at the 18 yard line. This is not a significant factor, but these are the little things that add up and impact the outcome of a football game.

BYU's coverage units saw drastic improvement when coach Paul Tidwell took charge last year, but they dipped tonight. Hopefully, it's an aberration.

I didn't like Berry's deep ball. What is going on here? This is two games in a row in which ducks were a common release from Berry's arm, under throwing receivers by as much as 10 yards. What makes this more bizarre is throwing the deep ball was Berry's biggest asset last year.

I liked everything else Berry did. He stood in the pocket and made great reads. He didn't make too many mistakes and is starting to get a good feel for the offense and his receivers, particularly super freshman Daniel Coats.

I REALLY love Coats. What a great playmaker he's proven to be after two games. Whether he starts out of the slot, lined up wide or off the interior line as a tight end, Coats is now a major player.

I liked the play of the offensive line. They didn't give Berry as much protection as they did against Georgia Tech, but they were blocking against what could be the best front seven in the nation. When you consider that, their play was outstanding.

I didn't like how BYU failed to capitalize on turnovers. BYU punted, kicked a field goal and missed another field goal on their three turnovers. USC scored three touchdowns and punted twice on theirs. Good teams capitalize on their opponent's mistakes. USC did this, BYU did not.

This was never more relevant than at what I think was the turning point in the game with 11:03 remaining in the third quarter when Poppinga intercepted a pass batted down by Brandon at the 28 yard line of USC.

BYU then proceeded to march backward toward a missed Payne field goal. BYU had all the momentum at that point, being down 21-12 at that point and missed a golden opportunity.

I like Payne. He missed a 54-yarder, but connected from 53 and 52 yards, which is incredible. I don't know if I'd prefer to have any other kicker in the nation on my team. He is very good. He actually had yards to spare on both of those makes.

I liked the fact that Gary Crowton didn't wear headphones in the second half. Crowton indicated that he left the play-calling almost entirely to assistants Robbie Bosco and Todd Bradford during the post game coach's show. That is significant. Crowton is letting go more and trusting his assistants. He's becoming a better head coach basically in my estimation. His game plan was excellent.

I didn't like how good the PAC-10 officials called the out of bounds plays. They were right on very close plays such as Rod Wilkerson's would-be touchdown pass and Mike Williams' two sideline catches.

I didn't like the game for about 30 minutes after it was completed. Upon driving around listening to the coaches show and reviewing it on tape, I feel this will prove to be a very significant game in BYU's near future.

BYU proved today they can stand toe-to-toe with anyone in the country. They outplayed USC for the better part of three quarters. I firmly believe the Mountain West Conference is theirs for the taking. This is a VERY good team that will only get better.

(c) copyright by

Total Blue Sports Top Stories